I think one of the reasons I love knitting so much is because it forces me to slow down. It’s a quiet craft, and it allows space for me to become meditative, to process my thoughts and to move gently away from the stresses of the day. Living more slowly is something I’ve been thinking about for some time now. I’ve been learning a lot about myself, and I know now that being busy isn’t good for me, that I need to balance the time I spend out and about, socialising, doing things, with time spent slowing down, relaxing and recuperating.
In short, I’ve learned that I like to live slowly.
Now, there’s one thing knowing this about myself, and there’s another actually putting it into practice. The expectations of others, of society as a whole, and those I put on myself, take time to unlearn and constant work to go against, so, keeping with the spirit of things, I’m conformable with making progress at a slow pace.
But living slowly really comes naturally to me. It’s where I feel calmer, more true to myself and more able to take on the challenging things that life sends my way. And over recent months I’ve been able to identify the times when I need to slow down, and the signals that my mind and body give me, and I’ve developed an understanding of the slower things I can do to bring myself back to centre and to that calm place that I best work from.
As I mentioned at the start, knitting is one of the things that I do to slow down. Picking up a project for me is like coming home. It’s taking a deep breath in, and long sigh out and immediately feeling a little smile touch the corners of my mouth. Its a trigger to myself, a signal which says it’s OK, you’re here now, you can let go of that negativity, that stress, that tiredness, and you can be calm. One of the reasons I love a simple knit is for the mindlessness of repetitive stitches. With my hands occupied by something my mind doesn’t need to focus on, I find myself free to do one of two things depending on what I need. Either I zone out, shutting my brain down for a while and allowing myself some time to rest, or my mind is freed up to ponder, to unpick thoughts and feelings and to come out of the other side feeling better. Whichever way, knitting is one of my favourite things to do to slow down, but it’s not the only thing.
Another of my favourite things to do, when life gets overwhelming, is to take a walk. Sometimes just pounding the pavement helps me to recalibrate, sometimes I need a companion to listen to me vent in a way that I only seem able to do when my feet are moving, and sometimes I need to break out of the city and have my feet to carry me somewhere where I can only see green, without a man-made structure in sight. Whichever way I do it, though, it forces me to take stock, slow down and pay attention.
There’s also nothing better than getting stuck into a good book when I need to pull back the pace. Cosying down with a cup of tea and a page tuner is a great way for me to reset, and getting lost in an entirely different world helps to alleviate when things get a bit much in this real one. Reading for me is a great way to unleash some creativity and help me to work through any mental blockages I might have.
When I feel the need to do something wholesome, spending some time in the kitchen is one of my favourite things to do. There’s not much that I love more than eating cake, so taking the time to lovingly bake something for myself is one of the best ways I know to slow down, particularly when I fancy something sweet. There’s something about measuring out the ingredients and mixing them together, following a recipe (for the most part precisely!) and watching the fruits of my labour rise in the oven, that brings me back to one of the truest parts of myself.
My daily go-to when things get a little too much, or when I’m feeling in a low mood, is to meditate. I’m riding high on my longest daily streak, having meditated for the last 135 days consecutively, and I can’t quite put into words how much difference it has made. Taking a little time, even sometimes just 60 seconds, always helps me to reset, slow down, calm down and emerge better-able to tackle to rest of the day.
The last thing I do, mostly when my brain is lagging, or I’m zoning out, or I’m struggling with the state of the world and my place in it, is to put my phone down. Sometimes I have to put it somewhere far enough away that I can’t see it, because when it’s in my eye line I can feel this weird sort of magnetic pull towards it when I really need to cut loose. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it’s also challenging and for me I need to shut off from it when I really need to slow down my mind.
I find that these things, in any kind of combination, form the basis of my self-care, and my ability to tackle all of the other things in life. Prioritising these slower activities, and making sure I always have time for them in the week, is one of the best things I can do to fuel my own contentment and keep myself happy.